As the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star nabbed a victory in court on Monday amid a $5 million lawsuit filed against both her and the once-famed lawyer, Erika was dealt with some unexpected news: Thomas sent $300,000 to mistress Tricia A. Bigelow to help purchase her oceanfront apartment in Santa Monica, California.
“Wow. I knew about jewelry, shopping sprees, and plastic surgery but this really threw me for a loop,” Erika admitted as she shared a screenshot of the news with her fans and followers on Instagram on August 31.
According to the Los Angeles Times, financial records show that Thomas sent a wire transfer to Tricia in the amount of $300,000 in 2015 amid their four-year affair. She then closed on a $715,000, one-bedroom, top-floor condo just steps from the Pacific Ocean.
At the time, the since-retired California judge told then-fiancé Terrance Manning it would be a getaway for the two of them.
“She had talked about [how] we’d still live in La Cañada and we could go down there on weekends,” he recalled. “It really never worked out, nor did our relationship.”
Although the infidelity is one thing, the fact that the money sent to Tricia actually came from an account with client settlements, including those meant for victims of the Inland Empire cement cases, makes the issue far more complex.
“Everybody was waiting. There was always some excuse,” Wiley Shepherd, who claimed to have developed colon and rectal cancer due to toxic exposure from cement plants, told the times.
Although he received about $20,000 in 2018, he wasn’t happy with the time it took for him to get paid nor was he happy with the amount.
“That money did not belong to the attorneys,” he stated. “That money belonged to the victims.”
“We never got a dime,” added Michelle Ganz, whose mother, Sandi, lived close to one of the cement plants and died after a battle with lung cancer. “We did everything they said we needed to, and they just never paid out.”
According to Tricia’s attorney, Alan Jackson, the $300,000 transfer “was NOT marked as coming from a [Girardi Keese] trust account,” and Tricia had no reason to suspect Thomas’ funds weren’t his own.
He also said Thomas “never shared anything with her regarding the source of any gifts,” and he noted that all of the gifts she received over the course of their relationship were turned over to Thomas’ bankruptcy trustee earlier this month. Among them were “1.75-carat diamond earrings, a Bulgari pearl and diamond necklace, a Cartier gold and diamond necklace and a Tiffany heart-shaped gold and diamond necklace that the trustee and Bigelow believed the law firm purchased,” as noted in the trustee’s court filing, via the Los Angeles Times.
Upon learning of the transfer in court, Erika exclaimed, “F-ck me,” and she denied knowing anything about it.
Erika then requested Tricia be placed under oath.
“I’m very upset that you haven’t noticed her depo,” she told the court.
And in response, Ronald Richards, who is working on the case against the RHOBH cast member, said he was gathering evidence about Bigelow now.
“I wasn’t going to do it when she was a justice. I’m not suicidal,” he noted.
In response to the report, Tricia’s attorney said she had “a long record of always being a staunch advocate of victims of crime and she’s focused on doing her part to make sure at least in this case the victims are made whole.”
In other news, Erika recently scored a major win in court as she was let off the hook amid a $5 million fraud lawsuit originally filed against Thomas by attorneys Philip R. Sheldon and Robert P. Finn in late 2020.
According to a Page Six report on August 31, Erika’s lawyer, Evan C. Borges, revealed that Los Angeles Judge Richard Fruin found no evidence that she played a role in “any wrongdoing” during a court date on Monday.
As RHOBH fans may recall, the attorneys brought Erika into the case in the midst of his bankruptcy proceedings, accusing her of “aiding and abetting” her now-estranged spouse as he used their cut of settlement funds to sustain their over-the-top lifestyle.
But in new court documents, it is stated that the attorney team failed to provide evidence that Erika had “actual knowledge” of Thomas’ crimes and noted that the plaintiffs instead mentioned “inferences” about “circumstantial evidence” in their complaint.
Erika told the court, “Listen, they did all the book at Girardi & Keese. They were in charge of all the ledgers … I didn’t do the invoices … I just thought it would all be taken care of. I didn’t really ask. Like, it’s not like I was raking in millions of bucks … I didn’t know what they were doing down there.”
Even in a declaration by the plaintiffs, the attorneys admitted Erika didn’t participate in agreements between Thomas and his colleagues.
“The evidence is irrelevant,” the judge ruled. “[Erika’s] lavish and extravagant hobby funded by the spouses’ community property is not evidence of the ‘actual knowledge’ any breach of fiduciary duty” between Thomas and the plaintiffs.
In response to the ruling, however, the plaintiff’s attorney, Ronald Richards, told Page Six that there is a “discrepancy” in the judge’s ruling because he “wrongly focused” on a duty they were “not arguing” was violated. He also confirmed his plan to appeal on grounds that Thomas “had a fiduciary duty to third parties who were expecting money” from a trust account.
Meanwhile, Erika’s own attorney responded to the outcome as a “critical” ruling due to the fact that it is the “first time that a Court of law has looked at ALL the supposed evidence against Erika, and the Court found in Erika’s favor,” and he added that he and Erika are “gratified that based on a review of actual evidence by a court of law, Erika has been exonerated.”
Following the sharing of the report, Erika shared a message with her supporters on Instagram.
“Thank you to my friends that have stood beside me. All I asked for was time and understanding.”
RHOBH Live Viewing – This is also the live viewing thread for tonight’s new episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season 12, which airs at 8/7c on Bravo. As the episode airs, feel free to post your thoughts below.